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Venezuelan Oil Chief Resigns

August 31, 1999

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) _ The head of Venezuela’s huge state oil monopoly resigned Monday, apparently because of conflicts among the company’s top management over production policies.

Roberto Mandini announced his resignation as president of Petroleos de Venezuela, known by its Spanish acronym PdVSA, in a video that was shown to the company’s employees, spokesman Alejandro Almaral told Dow Jones Newswires.

No replacement was immediately named, though a likely candidate was the company’s vice president, Hector Ciavaldini.

Analysts said Mandini resigned because of policy differences with other executives at PdVSA, one of the world’s largest oil companies.

Under the previous administration, PdVSA embarked on an ambitious expansion plan, securing market share by making price subordinate to supply. But the Chavez administration has sharply curtailed that plan as part of Venezuela’s policy of reducing output to raise prices.

Mandini probably couldn’t live with PdVSA’s change of policy, said Alan Viergutz, a Caracas based oil analyst. ``The ministry has reduced PdVSA’s long term investment plan and is complying with the oil cuts. Both factors weren’t necessarily favorable to PdVSA,″ Viergutz said.

Alberto Quiros, a former president of Shell de Venezuela, said Mandini’s resignation probably has more to do with an internal war with Ciavaldini, who reportedly has a closer relationship with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

``They both seem to represent different policies within PdVSA,″ Quiros said.

Ciavaldini stands for subordination by PdVSA to the state while Mandini wants to keep PdVSA open to the international market and preserve its independence, Quiros said.

Venezuela competes with Saudi Arabia and Mexico as the No. 1 foreign oil supplier to the United States.

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